Postpartum Preeclampsia

What is postpartum preeclampsia?

Postpartum preeclampsia is a serious condition related to high blood pressure (hypertension) and is closely related to preeclampsia, which occurs in 2-8% of all pregnancies. It usually occurs within 48 hours of childbirth, but can develop up to six weeks postpartum, or later.

If left untreated, it can lead to strokes, seizures, or life-threatening conditions like HELLP syndrome.

What are the risk factors for postpartum preeclampsia?

The risk factors for postpartum preeclampsia are similar to those for preeclampsia and include:

  • High blood pressure during your most recent pregnancy (gestational hypertension)
  • Obesity
  • Multiple gestation (pregnant with more than one baby)
  • Chronic high blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Age over 40
  • Black
  • Latino

What are the symptoms of Postpartum Preeclampsia?
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) of 140/90 or greater
  • Excess protein in your urine (proteinuria)
  • Severe headaches
  • Changes in vision (loss of vision, blurred vision, light sensitivity)
  • Upper abdominal pain (usually under the ribs on the right side)
  • Decreased urination
  • Swelling of the hands or face
  • Seizures

What is the treatment for Postpartum Preeclampsia?

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the above symptoms.

Call 911 or go to the emergency room if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Blood pressure at 160/110 or greater
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Seeing spots
  • Seizures

Postpartum preeclampsia is usually diagnosed with blood tests and urine samples. After diagnosis, it may be treated with medication to lower high blood pressure and/or medication to prevent seizures (magnesium sulfate). These medications are generally considered safe for breastfeeding, but talk to your doctor to be sure.

Who can help diagnose/treat Postpartum Preeclampsia?
  • Primary Care Physician (PCP)
  • OB/Gyn